This year’s Thailand trip was quite the event. Excellent weather, excellent scenery, excellent biking and excellent companionship. Everything you look for in a trip.
The Thai people are very warm and inviting and VERY tolerant of sharing the road. We were never honked at, given the finger (or whatever the local version might be) run off the road or coal rolled. Although recreational/ touring biking is not very common, (we saw less than a dozen other riders) drivers give you a wide berth and respect when passing. The roads were excellent, either asphalt or concrete, with very few potholes.
Our guides and the service Spice Roads provides were exceptional. With only 13 of us and 5 staff the client to staff ratio was almost unheard of!! They were all very genuine and by the end of the trip we all felt like family. Woodie, Mr.Rin, Mr. Bird, Mr. Phree and Mr. Chin gave it their all. Especially Woodie, who was ‘on deck’ almost 24/7. And . . . working behind the scenes our ‘travel concierge extraordinaire’, Bow, did a FABULOUS job keeping all the logistics straight and making things ran VERY smooth,
The Thai food was fantastic, with 6-7 dishes being served at lunch and dinners with VERY few repeats. Americans can take a lesson in the use of vegetables. Not surprising, there are very few overweight people in Thailand (I came home only .4 pounds lighter after biking over 1,000 miles!!).
The accommodations were exceptional, large rooms with all the amenities . . . and the air con worked at every overnight!!
Truly a great cultural experience!!
Although the funny tan marks produced by the cycle gloves I wear will fade, the memories of this trip will not . . . especially due to the fact I now have a full time traveling companion emJay, the love of my life, who retired in November after a 38 year career with The Nature Conservancy. As we travel through our retirement life now everyday will be a new adventure!!!
Now I am feeling “officially retired” as I have completed my first big adventure in retirement. When people asked me “What are you going to do now?!” I answered “Bicycle across Thailand!” My first two months were focused on getting ready for this trip (spinning, biking, packing, ordering visas, etc.) so now I get to focus on figuring out this next phase of my life! I’m sure it will include more trips and biking.
This trip was a test in some ways, of bike-tripping with Rick, and being away for 5+ weeks. Bike tripping with Rick was great; fun to share these experiences. Being gone for that long: challenging with an elderly canine at home, but happily neighbors and friends took care of Miss Daisy which made the trip worry-free as far as she was concerned.
Thailand is a beautiful and welcoming place. It is a real privilege to experience a place up close and personal, from the back of a bicycle. It is also a luxury to have so much time to spend getting to know people and culture. Great memories include crashing a wedding party; visiting important cultural sites; learning more about Buddhism. And interactions with friendly vendors!
Back in the U.S., I find myself valuing our environmental regulations, and hoping we don’t slip too far backwards as a nation in that area. Thailand struggles with air quality, evidenced on our trip by intensive agricultural burning in the north, and awful air quality in Bangkok that sent children to the hospital and made our lungs burn. Also, there are rules on the books in Thailand outlawing trade of wild species, yet it happens in Thai markets and in other countries, regularly. The fact that the novel Corona virus, probably from bats, emerged out of China during our trip underscores the seriousness of this problem.
As is usually the case, the people you are with make the trip. From our excellent and fun Thai guides and drivers, to our US and Canadian travel partners, my life has been enriched by getting to know new friends. We were a congenial group, sharing interests, openness, and curiosity. It is an intense experience to live with the same group for 4 weeks, then POOF! it is over and you are back to your routine. But the memories remain and make me smile.
There are two big gifts that remain with me after this trip. One is knowing that Rick and I have more opportunities to share travel adventures; hooray! The other is being reminded that we are part of the global community. People are people everywhere, valuing their families and friends; their traditions and religions; and the beauty and resources of the natural world. We have so much in common with each other, and if we can remember that, the world will be a better place for all of us.